Straddling Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, Somerset, Warwickshire, Wiltshire and Worcestershire, this beautiful part of the heart of England boasts rolling hills and peaceful, winding rivers.

Parts of it – particularly in Oxfordshire – are close enough to London to be commutable, but always far enough away to feel like the country. And the further-flung reaches are

Of course Oxford itself has a booming property marketproperty for sale in Oxford, from its large Victorian townhouses to the pretty semi-detached period cottages, is rising in price every year. By association, nearby towns and villages are also very sought-after with property hunters: Great Milton, Witney and Woodstock are both perennially popular with buyers looking to commute back into Oxford. Properties along The River Thames, are, of course also bought and sold at a premium.

The Oxfordshire Cotswolds comprise classic rolling countryside; Bicester village has hugely raised its profile in recent years, and property here is becoming harder to find, while the area around Chipping Norton has long been a destination for successful London buyers looking for a country retreat not too far from The City.

Gloucestershire is the other main country in the Cotswolds, with innumerable beautiful villages such as Bourton-on-the-Water and the Slaughters (Upper and Lower), while across into Wiltshire the likes of Castle Combe are famously picturesque.

Aynhoe Park

Aynhoe Park: three new houses planned

Three modern houses in a landscape by Capability Brown and Humphry Repton, adjoining a house by Soane, are making waves. Eleanor Doughty reports.